I have a disk image file from here; that page says I can boot this image with QEMU and the following command:

$ qemu-system-x86_64  -m 4096  -ctrl-grab  -no-reboot  x86-64.img

That gives a message:

WARNING: Image format was not specified for 'x86-64.img' and probing guessed raw.
     Automatically detecting the format is dangerous for raw images, write operations on block 0 will be restricted.
     Specify the 'raw' format explicitly to remove the restrictions.

The emulator loads, but PilOS crashes, which means I did something wrong:

(probably because PilOS wants to write to block 0 but can't)

The raw command line argument is, as far as I can tell, meant to be passed like this:

$ qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw file=x86-64.img 
qemu-system-x86_64: -drive format=raw: drive with bus=0, unit=0 (index=0) exists

That fails (I think) because my boot device is on /dev/sda, bus 0, so one of the following should work according to QEMU's man page (but doesn't):

$ qemu-system-x86_64 -drive bus=9 format=raw file=x86-64.img 
qemu-system-x86_64: -drive bus=9: Could not open 'format=raw': No such file or directory
$ qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw file=x86-64.img bus=9
qemu-system-x86_64: -drive format=raw: drive with bus=0, unit=0 (index=0) exists

The bus=9 argument that -drive should accept is either interpreted as a filename, or completely ignored.

How do I properly boot such a raw image in QEMU?

This is Ubuntu 15.10, running:

QEMU emulator version 2.3.0 (Debian 1:2.3+dfsg-5ubuntu9.3), Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Fabrice Bellard

Data about the image:

$ file x86-64.img 
x86-64.img: DOS/MBR boot sector; partition 1 : ID=0x83, active, start-CHS (0x0,1,1), end-CHS (0x82,246,62), startsector 62, 2006072 sectors; partition 2 : ID=0x82, start-CHS (0x83,0,1), end-CHS (0x15,246,62), startsector 2006134, 2006134 sectors

$ fdisk -lu x86-64.img 
Disk x86-64.img: 670 KiB, 686080 bytes, 1340 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Device      Boot   Start     End Sectors   Size Id Type
x86-64.img1 *         62 2006133 2006072 979.5M 83 Linux
x86-64.img2      2006134 4012267 2006134 979.6M 82 Linux swap / Solaris

1 Answer 1


The -drive option takes parameters that look like this:

qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw,file=x86-64.img 

… you need to use commas between its "sub"-options, not spaces.

For example, here is one I tested to boot a Debian Installer CD:

qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw,media=cdrom,readonly=on,file=debian-8.2.0-amd64-DVD-1.iso 
  • how do you specify the raw option for floppy drive in the following qemu-system-x86_64 -fda os.flp to get rid of the warning? Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:32
  • 1
    @enthusiasticgeek it's in the man page—search for "Instead of -fda, -fdb, you can use:" gives -drive file=file,index=0,if=floppy ... so you should be able to add format=raw to that.
    – derobert
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:36
  • ok got it. qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw,file=os.flp,index=0,if=floppy worked! Thanks. Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:56
  • 3
    @Mr.Hyde considering it worked for both me and OP, that's odd! What's the full command line? Maybe it'd be best to ask a new question, you can reference this one in your question.
    – derobert
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 10:23
  • 1
    @Mr.Hyde You don't have a -drive argument there, so that seems to be a different question. Suggest you ask your own question.
    – derobert
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 7:32

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